Friday, December 23, 2011

Cargill is Back Producing Ground Turkey

This post may interest those consumers who want to know more about what happens after a large food product recall in the U.S.

If the inspectors find contamination in the processing plant, and large amounts of product have to be recalled, it can mean the end of a small company. Larger ones can usually weather the storm - and the expense and negative publicity involved. Part of that expense is cleanup of the plant, as required by government regulators. Production of the recalled product, and sometimes of others as well, will have to be stopped until food safety is improved.
Cargill (Cargill Meat Solutions Corp.) provides an example. In August and September of this year (end of the summer, 2011) this huge company had a large ground turkey recall because of Salmonella contamination. The turkey had been processed at their Springdale, Arkansas facility. Several brands were affected: including Honeysuckle White, Shady Brook Farms, Riverside, Aldi Fit & Active, Giant Eagle, HEB, Kroger and Safeway.

After discovery of Salmonella at the plant, ground turkey production was suspended (another one in Virginia kept making it). Over the next few months, the company undertook a thorough cleanup and set up new and better quality and testing standards, including:

Addition of more bacteria reduction steps, including before the turkey is ground.
• Improvement of the process control monitoring system
• Increase of the number and frequency of tests for Salmonella.
• Establishment of high pressure processing, to further reduce numbers of Salmonella.

Training of workers in the new procedures.

Cargill now says that their new safety measures at the Springdale plant are the best in the industry. Cargill food safety specialists and USDA inspectors are also reportedly present for each and every shift at the plant.

So why didn't they have these measures before the outbreak which would have avoided a lot of misery to consumers - and, to the company? You know the answer: they cost money.

Cargill expects their turkey to be back in the stores soon. And, my guess is that at least part of the cost of increased safety will be passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices.

To your good health,


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're right, the costs will be passed on, particularly since Cargill probably is close to a monopoly supplier. But what is the price of avoiding a couple of days bent over the toilet bowl? I would pay a few cents more to pay for this.